Ray Bradbury Could Work Anywhere

I love this image:

“I can work anywhere. I wrote in bedrooms and living rooms when I was growing up with my parents and my brother in a small house in Los Angeles. I worked on my typewriter in the living room, with the radio and my mother and dad and brother all talking at the same time. Later on, when I wanted to write Fahrenheit 451, I went up to UCLA and found a basement typing room where, if you inserted ten cents into the typewriter, you could buy thirty minutes of typing time.

Pay typewriters. Who knew? Reminds me of the computer stations in the Sbarro in Port Authority. If I missed the early bus, I’d log on for a while. I don’t remember if I wrote anything decent, but the thing was just to write. Still is. Off we go, then.

On Being Daunted in Public

For whatever reason, one of my favorite pieces of dialogue in The Sun Also Rises is Bill Gorton going on about never being daunted in public. It’s almost a hundred years old, but it’s still funny.

There’s nothing wrong with being daunted in public, of course. And I guess old Bill has nothing against being daunted in general. The trick is, don’t stay there.

Here’s the exchange:

Certainly like to drink,’ Bill said. ‘You ought to try it sometimes, Jake.’

‘You’re about a hundred and forty-four ahead of me.’

‘Ought not to daunt you. Never be daunted. Secret of my success. Never been daunted. Never been daunted in public.’

‘Where were you drinking?’

‘Stopped at the Crillon. George made me a couple of Jack Roses. George’s a great man. Know the secret of his success? Never been daunted.’

‘You’ll be daunted after about three more Pernods.’

‘Not in public. If I begin to feel daunted I’ll go off by myself. I’m like a cat that way.’

I like what Sally Skinner has to say about it:

“Sparkling, pitch-perfect dialogue or what? The drunken swagger captured phonetically in almost hiccuped fragments of speech; the different shades of meaning taken on by the word ‘daunted’; the easy, natural wit. More than a little daunting to a novice writer…

There’s a carefree hedonism that blows through this book like a cool breeze. This makes it refreshing sort of read, even when the character are drunk, or brawling, or lapping up the violence of the bullfight. But it’s worth reading purely for the dialogue.”

Sally is absolutely right.

As for being daunted? Bill seems to know it’s impossible to never feel this way, so he mitigates by slinking off. (Notice how Hemingway mercifully does not use the word slinking, but cuts right to the chase with “I’m like a cat that way.”?)

It turns out being daunted in public can be a great way to build community, especially in lieu of French cafes and Gertrude Stein. I’m talking, of course, about finding support, commiseration, encouragement, and inspiration in the company (perhaps virtual company) of other writers. In many ways, being daunted in public is another way of saying publishing or sharing your work, or of sharing a part of yourself. A writer who has never been daunted or isn’t willing to be daunted in public most likely ends up with Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery. Amazing title aside, what a waste.

Writing and Publishing Year in Review

Thank you to the editors who have published my work this year, and to the readers who have read it!

Taken together, there are some very clear themes to this year’s published work. I am honored to have been published at every one of these journals, and I’m grateful to The Shore for their Pushcart nomination and to have been selected for print anthologies by Nick Virgilio Haiku Association/Nick Virgilio Writers House and Hippocampus Books.

Here’s the list of published works for 2021, again, with my profound thanks and appreciation.

Great Dams on the Land at Belt

Stop Me if You’ve Heard this Before, Superego at The Daily Drunk. This piece was also noted by the Existential Poetics newsletter.

Doorjamb at Bandit Fiction.

A Poet of Hope at Appalachian Review

On Billy Joel and Thomas Pynchon: It Was Always Christie Lee at The Daily Drunk.

Salvator Mundi at Still: The Journal.

Prepositions at VIA: Voices in Italian Americana, Vol 32, Issue 1.

Ospitalità (Nonno Flirts with Death)  at Schuylkill Valley Journal.

The Effects of Ground-Level Ozone on the Ecology of Pennsylvania Highways and Ode to Wallace Stevens at The Shore. The editors at The Shore nominated “The Effects of Ground-Level Ozone…” for a Pushcart Prize. I am very grateful.

Bear and Mountain and Well Past the Harvest at Dodging the Rain.

Last Standing the Closing Country, which first appeared at Brevity, was selected for publication in “Main: An Anthology” by Hippocampus Books. Here’s the description from Hippocampus: “Main: An Anthology, part of The Way Things Were Series from Books by Hippocampus, celebrates small town America. The collection features stories about family-owned businesses, such as the stores and specialty shops that used to rule Main Street America. Our contributors share how these businesses define themselves and their family members, how the efforts evolved over time, through the generations.” Read more here.

Wage Slave was selected for publication in the Haiku in Action anthology by the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association and Nick Virgilio Writers House. From the publisher: “This collection of contemporary poems from around the world includes hundreds of haiku in its various forms, from the traditional style to senryu, monoku, and more. The anthology is perfect for lovers of haiku who want to read poems focusing on the events of 2020 from an international and diverse range of both established and emerging poets. More than just a collection of poems, this book also features haiku categories, writing prompts, essays from the NVHA staff, and an extensive lesson on haiku writing from renowned teacher, Tom Painting.”

Co-wrote the lyrics for “Radio Jesus” with John Hardt. Performed, recorded, produced by John Hardt.

What to Name Your Cat

I wanted to work on a piece about Schrodinger’s Cat and this is what my brain did instead.

Schrodinger, Kayfabe, Mr. Pringles, Tom Petty.

Hazmat, Nermal, Big Mitch.

Filene, Phaedra, Uncle Tupelo.

Liono, Katara, Fellini.

Great Theft Auto, Hoagie/Grinder, Pierogi.

Fig Newton, Pippin, Loki, Picard.

Kenny Ortega, Kenny Omega.

Cringer, Crash, Koko, Kismet.

Ax/Smash, Dax/Cash.

Don Knots, Leonard Cohen, Sir Hiss.

Rad Brad, Don Quixote, Sadie Pawkins.

Leslie Knope, Linda Rondcat.

Kenneth Purrcel.

How to Pre-Order “Main: An Anthology” from Hippocampus

Hello!

The other day I got the chance to share that a piece of mine is going to be included in a new anthology from Hippocampus. Today I want to share a little more about the project, why it’s important to me, and how you can check it out.

Here’s the description from Hippocampus: “Main: An Anthology, part of The Way Things Were Series from Books by Hippocampus, celebrates small town America. The collection features stories about family-owned businesses, such as the stores and specialty shops that used to rule Main Street America. Our contributors share how these businesses define themselves and their family members, how the efforts evolved over time, through the generations.”

I grew up in a multigenerational family business, and it’s still a major part of my professional life. Over the years, it’s taken me all over the fairgrounds and fire halls and farmers markets of a good swath of Pennsylvania. It’s taught me about the precarious nature of supply chains, the tenuous grasp most working families have on anything like stability, the miracles of shared experiences, the social pressures of class and place, the ways we deal with change.

I tried to capture some of that in the piece that’s going to be reprinted in Main. It was first published by Dinty W. Moore at Brevity, an early success at a wonderful venue. I’m so glad that it’s now also finding a home with another wonderful venue alongside work by great creative minds and under the direction of Hippocampus editor Donna Talarico. To Dinty, to Donna, and to everyone involved, a heartfelt thank you doesn’t do justice to what it has meant to me to have this piece out there in the world. With that said, thank you!

If you’d like to pre-order this collection (and support independent voices, writers, and publishers) check it out here!